Rapid City tanker base in 2001

Rapid City Tanker Base 2001
Rapid City Tanker Base during the 2001 Rogers Shack Fire.

During the Rogers Shack Fire in 2001 the Rapid City Air Tanker Base used almost every square inch of their ramp for parking five large air tankers fighting the fire between Custer, South Dakota and Newcastle, Wyoming.

The photo is courtesy of the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division.

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13 thoughts on “Rapid City tanker base in 2001”

  1. Great old picture. Rapid City was a small but very tidy base. A DC 7, two P2V’s and two Y’s Today that would represent about 35% of the nations daily available total heavy air tanker fleet. That is sad. In the days of initial attack I believe Hawkins and Powers had the Black Hills contract, PB4Y?

  2. And only one of five is still flying. I remember seeing the silver PB4Y quite often in 2001 and 2002. Would guess it was on contract here.

    1. Is it 62 that’s still in service? Or 01?
      The DC-7 was (and is) a great airtanker. The others, well, er, perhaps should have flown straight from the military bases to the museums upon retirement.

  3. With that thinking, Chris

    You’d probably be exactly where we are today……..in great shape

  4. All the air tankers in the picture gave or is still giving (DC7 Cal Fire) decades of service. In the era of these aircraft when the military decided to reduce the inventory of planes like the B 17, PB4Y2, PV2 Harpoon, B 25 and B 26’s the bidding was interesting. Some airplanes where sold for the value of the fuel in their tanks or just for the engines. rumor? I am familiar with several converted airplanes to tanker that had (FTO) Ferry Time Only from acceptance at Tinker AFB Oklahoma City to Tucson. A new B 17G for about $8000 (TTFT) Total Flight Time 7 hours.

  5. DC-7 T62 still working for The State of Oregon.Also DC-7,s T66 and T60 still working for Oregon and California.These states prefer not to rely totally on the Feds for their fire protection.For some of the younger viewers who may not know;Those DC-7s carry a true 3000 gals with an 8 door gravity tank and make very nice drops.

    1. Hear 66 is not on contract due to construction at Redmond this summer (considering the conditions not
      a particularly good idea.) but may be on a Calfire contract….
      Good aircraft still…..

  6. Legendary fire pilot Don Ornbaum after asking him what was the best tanker he has ever flown, without hesitation *#@*^&% “DC 7”. Don flew them all. Currently there are about 40 DC 7’s flying daily world wide, mostly freighters. At the high cost of turbine/turbo/jet operations and maintenance I wonder if we shouldn’t (operators) look back at the “7′? The DC 7 is powered by the same engines as the P2V, Wright 3350. Yes a TRUE 3000 gallon airplane that responds close to the FAA airspeed limit below 10,000MSL of 250 knots.

    1. 40? Where does that figure come from? I would be surprised if there are 10.

  7. Internationally who really knows how many are still flying (Airlines, Net) reported about 40. World wide I would guess that 60 or 70 are scattered around the world in various restorable conditions. Recently a PV2 Harpoon Tanker 101 was located on a private strip North of S.F. Ca. Flew out of ranch to Stockton, Ca. for a complete restoration. Tanker 101 had been “sitting” on the ranch for sixteen years. If your interested in buying a DC 7 (any condition) call an international aircraft broker/sales and watch the phone start ringing. Those guys are more aggressive than car salesmen.

  8. Yep 62 is the only one still working fires. 99 crashed on a ferry flight. 01 was scrapped. I’m guessing the PBY’s are still around though I can’t read the number on the silver one.

    Everything I’ve heard was that the DC-7 was a super aircraft. And the PBY was also a good tanker. Yes, old and worked hard. Not sure how 01 performed without jet assist, I don’t think Aero Union kept jets on any of their P2V’s. They all had their place and did the job.

    1. All the PB4Y-2’s were grounded after 123 broke up in 2002. And the fates of the Survivors is scattered. 127 is in Greybull part of the Airtanker museum there. 121 Is still in Tanker configuration and flies demos at airshows. The others were given to Museums and reconverted into Warbirds, or are broken up for parts.

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